Daily Archives: March 23, 2010

A couple of spring practice notes

On the defensive side, something I mentioned previously as a good reason for Rodney Garner to stay in Athens – the opportunity to expand his coaching experience by learning to coach in a 3-4 scheme – appears to have some validity.

… Since Richt came on board in 2001, Garner has coached Georgia’s defensive tackles, but that job has changed quite a bit since Grantham came on board as the team’s new defensive coordinator.

In the 3-4 defense — which employs three down linemen and four linebackers — Garner’s coaching responsibilities have expanded from the two tackles he used to be responsible for to now include the entire line and, on many occasions, the rush linebackers, too.

“His responsibility has really grown,” Richt said. “When we do pass skeleton, Coach Grantham will still be there, but Rodney is handling the pass rush. So the outside linebackers who are working on their rush skills, Coach Garner is now teaching pass rush from inside and out. His responsibility has grown, but he’s excited about it.”

And on the other side of the ball, necessity – in this case, the numbers game at wide receiver and tight end – once again proves to be the mother of invention.

“It’s going to be good to have those guys just to confuse the defense, not knowing if we’re in a two-tight formation, or spread, or three receiver look,” quarterback Aaron Murray said.

Both White and Charles played tight end and receiver in high school. They have the size to hang in the trenches, blocking or catching passes over the middle, but also the quickness to flex out wide.

Playing the matchup game, Georgia can flex either Charles or White, or both, if a linebacker is trying to cover them.

The possibilities are endless.

“It’s going to pose a great threat,” Murray said. “It’s going to be pretty hard for the defense. You look at our defense now, we come out with two tight ends, and they think we’re going to be in a two-tight formation and we split one out, or we split two out and they’re in a base defense. They’re not ready to handle four receivers. It causes it a lot of confusion just because of their athleticism.”

Quibble if you like over Bobo’s occasional playcalling lapses.  He does have a good grip on what he can do with his scheme overall.

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Filed under Georgia Football

“Right now we’re on the menu.”

The mid-major football program that I root for to break into the next level is TCU.  Gary Patterson is this sane, rational man who recognizes that the best way for a program like his to make it big is to push as hard on the field as possible with the idea that with time the payoff will come.  Along those lines, he’s also smart enough to recognize that the current BCS format is better for schools like his who can’t match the resources and depth of schools that come from the top of the Big Ten or SEC and wouldn’t likely survive the grind of a multi-round playoff format.

But that’s only half of the picture.  Breaking the college football glass ceiling also involves the financial side, as Orrin Hatch is so fond of reminding us.  About that, it turns out that TCU’s athletic director is as grounded as his football coach is.

“There are teams in the Big 12 that are nowhere near where we are athletically,” Del Conte said, just getting started. “We could have been Baylor.”

That TCU isn’t, is why they matter going into the 2010 season. There is no whining anymore. The school didn’t deserve to be in the Big 12. Back in the mid-1990s it relied on the likes of Texas or Texas A&M fans coming to town to sell out home games. Now when critics point out they can’t even sell out their own 44,000-seat stadium, Frogs everywhere point out it used to be a lot worse.

Do you want 17,000 folks watching a horrible team or 38,000 watching a conference champion?

“Missing out on the Big 12 gave us an opportunity,” Del Conte said. “That’s the best thing that happened to us. Now we can regroup. Back then if our program was where it is today, we would have been in [the Big 12].”

There’s something ironic on the horizon if TCU manages to pull off the big one this season and make it to the BCS title game.  On the one hand, it probably seals the deal for the Mountain West to be recognized and accepted as an AQ BCS conference.  On the other hand, it makes TCU an attractive target for a bigger conference.

It’s all about getting in again: Getting into the BCS. If the Mountain West keeps performing at current levels, its champion will be guaranteed a BCS bowl in 2012 and 2013. At least.

It’s also about getting into a new conference, if it comes to that. As conference realignment looms, TCU has positioned itself nicely. It has been mentioned prominently as a candidate to join the league that once spurned it, the Big 12. If the Big 12 lost Missouri and/or Colorado, TCU would have to be at the top of the list. There aren’t many other viable candidates.

“Everyone is vulnerable because of the landscape,” Del Conte said. “There are tectonic plates around the world. You don’t know when an earthquake is going to happen. That’s what happened with college football. You’re always going to have shift.”

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Filed under It's Not Easy Being A Mid-Major

They keep pulling me back in.

I know some of you probably groan internally when you see another BCS post at GTP, but really, what am I supposed to do when I see this posted at EDSBS?

Screen_shot_2010-03-22_at_3

Gosh, Seth, when you put it that brilliantly, obviously I don’t get the spiritual fulfillment that comes from filling out brackets as so many other people like yourself do.

Then again, I suspect you don’t have a clue as to what drives folks all over the Southeast to fill college football stadiums with more people then you’ll see in any arena hosting the first round of the basketball tourney… to watch spring exhibition football scrimmages.  So we’re even on that score.

Don’t get me wrong here.  I enjoy March Madness – how could you not?  But I simply don’t understand the romanticism of football playoff proponents for it.

This past weekend gave me reason No. 1,394,020 to quit filling out brackets:  I love seeing the mid-majors win. Instead of cheering Northern Iowa, all I could think was this — I have Kansas winning it all! Many of you probably went through the same — indeed 42.7 percent of the 4.78 million brackets filled out on ESPN.com had Kansas as the national champion (including the bracket of President Barack “Chalk” Obama).

But is also reason No. 1,394,020 why the NCAA basketball tournament trumps what college football calls a postseason.

Anybody can win.

Aw, that’s so cute.  Wrong, but cute.  A number one seed has never lost in the first round.  A number two seed has lost only four times in the first round.  Here’s Wikipedia’s breakdown of how low seeds have done in the tournament since it expanded to 64 schools:

Lowest seeds to reach each round since expansion to 64 teams in 1985:

Notice that, aside from George Mason’s improbable run in 2006, the trend has clearly been running against the lower seeds showing up for the semifinals and the quarterfinals.  So, no, not everybody can win.  Cinderella gets to dance early, but she doesn’t get to stay for the main event.  Which is what you’d expect in a multi-round, single-elimination format tournament.  How’s that different from “any given Saturday” in college football?

… While I realize college basketball and college football are different sports, with different politics involved and a different way of doing business, it is still refreshing to see “non-BCS schools” beating the big boys. Especially with all the fighting teams like TCU and Boise St. have had to do to gain respect — and a seat at the table – in college football.

If the powers that be in college football had their way, those mid-majors would be locked out of any BCS/playoff system. They are embraced in college basketball and shunned in college football. The only way this would change in football, of course, is with a playoff that involves automatic bids for all 11 conferences. Right now, we have no way of knowing whether the Sun Belt champion could take down UF or Alabama. Nobody thought Northern Iowa would win, right?

Because of the playoff label.  (By the way, we do know whether the Sun Belt champ could take down Florida.  The Gators beat Troy by 50 last season.)

This is what the debate comes down to, in my opinion.  Does the Cinderella factor enhance the postseason experience such that it validates its winner to a greater extent than the BCS currently does?  A lot of people would say unquestionably that it does.

Matt Hinton, who makes no bones about being a playoff proponent, acknowledges that there’s more of a fine line that college football should walk.  Here’s his counter to Adelson’s Cinderella-love:

… With the thrill of the unexpected, though, comes the unavoidable tradeoff of a certain kind of justice for obviously superior teams — such as, say, Kansas, which defeated rival Kansas State three times en route to the Big 12′s regular season and tournament championships, only to watch the Wildcats move closer to the national championship because their inexplicable lapse against an inferior opponent came at a more convenient time in the season — whose otherwise brilliant campaigns can go up in a blink. (The classic football example is the 2007 Patriots, arguably the greatest team in NFL history, whose perfect season was extinguished by a six-loss team that not only lost to New England in the regular season but finished three full games behind the champion of its own division.) For all the BCS’ faults, producing an “unworthy” champion has never been one of them, as opposed to the occasional Villanova, N.C. State and Arizona in the basketball tournament; the Series’ sins have always been at the opposite end, of leaving obviously worthy contenders out of the mix rather than letting stragglers in. But the impulse to prevent a “hot” team from watering down the stakes in the regular season is the only valid argument the status quo has going for it.

I can’t argue too much with that, although I think maintaining the value of a conference championship is a worthy goal for whatever postseason format college football adopts.  I don’t disagree with this point, either:

There is a middle ground between those competing poles that recognizes that a playoff should be open enough to allow all worthy contenders, restrictive enough to exclude the riffraff, and designed with the goal of producing a champion that has inherently produced the best season by virtue of winning the playoff…

Sure ’nuff, but the devil’s in the details.  Matt saves that for another day, but I’ve got to say that his giving a nod to Dan Wetzel’s 16-team playoff proposal as a possible solution doesn’t convince me that he’s on the side of the angels with this.  If his standard is that middle ground, shouldn’t any realistic evaluation of the best postseason format start with a historical analysis of how many teams on average are worthy of being considered national title contenders at regular season’s end?  I’m not sure of too many things in this life, but I’ll bet the ranch that whatever that average number is, it’s a helluva lot less than sixteen.

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UPDATE: Elkon combines disassembling the “anybody can win” talk with some choice Mandel smack.  What’s not to like?

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UPDATE #2: Year2 adds some kinder, gentler, don’t-go-there thoughts.

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Filed under BCS/Playoffs

“He knows he hasn’t lived up to the billing.”

Florida WR Deonte Thompson has a minor quibble with his old quarterback.  You know, the Heisman Trophy winner.  He may have been acclaimed, but Deonte Thompson knows quarterbacks, and Tim Tebow, he’s no… well, let Deonte explain:

“You never know with Tim,” Thompson said. “You can bolt, you think he’s running but he’ll come up and pass it to you. You just have to be ready at all times. With Brantley, everything’s with rhythm, time. You know what I mean, a real quarterback.”

Yeah, that’s it.  Tebow was a fake quarterback.

Now that sounds a little arrogant to me, coming from a guy whose career to date can be succinctly described as underachieving, but one of his coaches begs to differ.

“That’s what’s great about him. He’s humbled. He’s let his guard down. Coach, coach me.”

Only a Tebow held him back.

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Filed under Gators, Gators...